Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada - CCAC

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Neil Crone’s Journal

Neil Crone’s Journal

Neil Crone is an actor and writer and a national spokesperson for the CCAC. A Second City veteran improvisor, host and stand up comic, Neil also loves to write poems and stories for "big and little kids".

Neil has written a journal of his experience with colorectal cancer.


I was supposed to start round two of chemo today. Suz and I got down there and were stopped at the door to the Oncology department and asked to put on some yellow paper mouth masks. Somebody had apparently dropped in the other day with a touch of TB. One can only marvel at the pea brain that directs somebody with TB to go into a ward full of people whose mean age is around 80 and whose collective immune systems couldn’t fight off a hiccup. At any rate, we put these things on and went in. It was awful. The Oncology waiting room is a sad enough place when you can actually see people’s faces, it was downright horrible when you looked around and saw nothing but a sea of yellow masks and frightened eyes. Suz and I took ours off and drew smiles on the front. That helped a little.

The drill every Monday of my chemo rounds is that they first take some of my blood. (I am very brave and usually get a sucker) They zip it off to the lab to make sure I don’t have any tumor markers in it or Ebola or anything, and then, if all is well, they proceed with my treatments. Well, they took some blood, we waited, and then were promptly told to go home. My white blood cell count was too low to risk another bombardment apparently. Never thought I’d take my white blood cell count personally, but I have to tell you it’s a bit of shot to the old ego when somebody tells you you’re not exactly up to snuff in the old white blood cell department. The nurse had that look on her face too, as if she was wondering what other departments I might be lacking in. I should’ve let her know right then and there in no uncertain terms that chemo or no chemo, Mr. Happy is still at his post, if you get my drift. I got your white blood cells right here baby.

Anywho, we’re back home. Round two is put off until next Monday...that is providing mister sissy cells can manage to generate a few more white ones. I must have the bone marrow of Stephen Hawking or something. Tomorrow we meet with my Radiation Doctor...Smiley. He’s kind of like Ben Kingsley in ’The house of sand and fog’ only without the humor. God knows what he’ll tell us. I don’t start radiation for about a month. He may just want to gently remind me once more that even with radiation my chances aren’t great. He’s so funny that way. We laugh and laugh. Honestly, I don’t mean to generalize about oncologists, I mean they have a pretty brutal gig, but these guys really need to get out and have a few laughs. When we sit and talk with my chemo guy (a.k.a Bela Lugosi) it’s all I can do to stop from just reaching over and giving him an atomic wedgy. Just to see his eyes light up for once. I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on them. They wallow in death all day, poor bastards. I should just give a hug when I see him. Maybe Suz could flash him. That always makes me feel a whole lot better.

On the upside, I just turned 44 on the weekend and had a wonderful time. Managed to pooch three restaurant dinners over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and only had to pay for two of them.

My birthday present arrived today as well...a brand spanking LaZBoy recliner and reclining sofa. Bring on the chemo boys, I’m laying down in style from now on. I’ve got things positioned perfectly so I can watch Calgary beat the snot out of Tampa tonight.

Some friends recently asked me what it is that I do with my days now that I am not really working much. It’s a good question, and some days I have to ask myself, what the hell did I do today?

I generally get up with Suz and the guys and we all have breakfast together. Well, they have breakfast...I sit there and cram gelcap after gelcap of supplements and vitamins into my mouth and wash it down with some vile ’good for my immune system’ brew that tastes like boiled gymsocks. I pop more pills during a day than Keith Richards. We’re seriously thinking of getting a ’lazy Susan’ for the breakfast table just to help me keep track of which ones I’ve ingested and which I haven’t.

Once the kids are off to school Suzanne and I usually head into Oshawa for chemo treatments if it’s that week. If not, she may head into Uxbridge to work (if I’m feeling good enough to be left to my own recognizance) and then the dog and I head out for our morning walk. I cram my pockets full of carrots and celery (all good antioxidants you know) put on my sunglasses and floppy hat and out we go.

We usually walk out along one of the country concession roads. It’s quite lovely. This time of the year especially. I’ve said to Suz a bunch of times, that this would be a much more difficult battle in the middle of a dreary, dark winter. As it is, we take our time, sniff every lilac bloom and apple blossom we come across and generally have a pretty darn nice time of it. I walk past the same fields and forests and river everyday, but each day they look a little different. The light is different or the crops have grown a little more or a farmer has ploughed up the earth. I never tire of it and it always leaves me feeling wonderfully happy and positive. The other morning we almost ran smack into a Bear on our walk. I’ve taken to wearing a whistle now. Although let’s face it, no bear in his right mind would want to eat me after chemo. That’d be like having a Warfarin sandwich. That’s actually one of my little amusements. Right after a full dose of chemotherapy, I’ll sit out on the back deck with an arm exposed for the mosquitoes. You can actually watch them tank up on your blood, fly off and drop dead about ten feet away. (Jesus, I just re-read that....I’ve got to get some hobbies or something)

The rest of the day really, is taken up with a little snoozing, a little reading, a lot of vegetable eating and some time spent on the computer writing and catching up with emails like this one. Usually I’m in the rack by 9 PM. Not exactly Pierce Brosnan, but I’m not complaining. When things slow down like this you really do find joy and pleasure in small things. Every email I get, every note or letter and visit is gold. Thank you all. You’re keeping me connected to the rest of my world.

Well, this has gone on far too long I’m sure. I have a LaZboy to break in. Much love and health to you all.

Yours in white blood cells,


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